The Conspiracy

We Are All Images of God: How I Will Beat Anorexia

“little flame” | CC via Flickr user Stephano Mortellaro

I grew up knowing that one of the most important values is to honor one’s body. I learned that I was made in the image of God and that made my body holy. I have never felt that way, though. I have always felt that my body is disgusting, something to be ashamed of, not worthy of being loved or taken care of. I have spent most of my life destroying it through self-harm and anorexia. At this point I find myself leaving treatment for anorexia for the third time since January. One of the tasks I have been asked to do in treatment this time is to identify my values. I need to discover what I want to stand for and decide whether my actions align with that or not. While going over my values, I realized that one thing I don’t value is my body; the problem with that is my religion does, and I value my religion. Judaism teaches to love your neighbor as you love yourself. In my case I need to flip this teaching and love myself as I love my neighbor. I treat others with respect and compassion, so why can’t I treat myself that way? I want to say that as I progress through treatment, I learn to love my body more and more, but that would be a lie. Honestly, the more weight I gain and the more I stay in treatment, the more I hate my body. The more I want to destroy it from the inside out. Until recently, I didn’t remember the teaching that we are all created in the image of God. This teaching makes me feel like my body was created for a purpose other than starving. My body was created so that I could laugh, dance, explore, travel, express myself, show affection, and love.

I wish I could say that I’m the picture of recovery. I’ve been out of treatment for six days now, and the truth is that this recovery thing, it’s really hard. There is this weird gray area in eating disorder recovery where you aren’t completely in the eating disorder but you aren’t anywhere near fully recovered either. This is the hardest part to get through because during this gray part you begin to feel all the feelings that your eating disorder was covering up. I am also finally weight restored, which means that I have reached the weight that my body naturally wants to be. I should be happy about this. Weight restoration is a sign of health. I’m not though, I’m actually rather devastated. When I lay in bed at night sleepless because I’m obsessing over how much weight I have gained, I stop for a second and remind myself that God loves me and will take care of me no matter what size I am. In return for his love, it is my duty to treat my body as a temple. There is a song we used to sing at Schechter that said, “We each have a spark of holy flame.” Even if I don’t feel that I deserve to be nourished, I do feel that spark deserves nourishment.

I look back on the past 9 months. I’ve been in and out of treatment all year. I’ve come scary close to dying, but I have made it through. I am truly grateful to be alive. I think that holy spark inside has saved me. That spark contains strength, hope, perseverance, and potential. I am going to need that spark if I’m going to beat anorexia, and trust me I will beat this. I am slowly learning how to appreciate my body for all the miraculous things it does instead of what it looks like. I was made in the image of God and for that reason I will keep on fighting.

 

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please call 1-800-986-4160 or click this link to find a treatment center near you.

Jourdan Stein is a student at Drexel University.

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